If you have me on Facebook, you’ll see my profile picture is me, sunglasses tucked in, sitting on the street, smiling. Someone asked me the other day, “What are you doing sitting on the road, Gayatri?” It took me back in time, to Firenze.
Our hole in the wall hotel room, by the leather market; the Chinese restaurant round the corner. We snuck in for egg noodles, as soon as we checked in- we had spent days traversing Italy’s countryside and were starved for some semblance of home-food.
Our walk down to Piazza della Signoria remembered for where the Renaissance was born, where Michelangelo’s David’s statue is, and where artists now paint the streets, sell art in charcoal, play the violin; where art and music lingers, still. Runners run, and bicyclists cycle and children squeal over gelato, and love sits in street-side cafes, sipping wine.
It took me back in time to Firenze, Ponte Vecchio and the teenage boys playing ball as tourists looked on, to our first glance up at Basilica di Santa Croce, to Mercato Centrale, Firenze’s glorious food and local produce market. We never ran out of mushrooms. And pesto, and herbs, and rocket leaves, and fish just out of simmering oil, scones sunk in fresh cream.
Finally, it took me back to Palazzo Pitti, that moment in the picture, where we had stumbled into an impromptu Chinese church-choir playing in the streets; a crowd had gathered. Hundreds had found a spot to sit, some held hands, some took photographs, some sung along, some stood reluctantly in the corner of the street. Everyone gaped, at the beauty of the moment, the beauty of the music.
The beauty of stumbling into unplanned, simple happiness.
Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life– Anna Akhmatova
Firenze, the best of it.